SOMSD’s updates and makes its graphic identity more uniform

The new logos for the South Orange and Maplewood School District and its schools. They were updated and made to look more uniform with a mascot in the middle and a logo underneath.

New logos for the district and its school were unveiled recently at a South Orange & Maplewood School District Board of Education meeting.

Introduced as “the new unified graphic identity” the logos could be seen in a video that was shown at the BOE meeting, and also sent to families in the district.

The video, which can be found on YouTube, has a voiceover by Superintendent Ronald Taylor and showcases the incredible strides that the district has made, and continues to make, for their students, staff, and community. It also has an opportunity to share their refreshed graphic identity that their students, staff, and school leaders contributed to.

While the Columbia High School logo looks very similar, the logs for the other five schools and the district itself have a more unified look. Each logo has a mascot in a circle with the school name and motto underneath.

Taylor explained a bit about each logo and what they represent.

“The primary element of the district icon is a stylized depiction of the Columbia High School Bell Tower since it represents the pinnacle of the academic journey in the district,” he said. The bell tower is positioned in front of a bright horizon.

“Emblematic of the future ambitions and positive impact each district student will make on the world,” said Taylor.

As for the colors logo, red and black are the traditional colors of Columbia High School and the district.

“Gray has been added to the palette to serve as an accent color,” said Taylor.

Paying tribute to the two-town dynamic of the district, Taylor revealed that the town name utilizes the same typeface but are displayed in different colors for the Two Towns logo.

Inspired by the circular shape of the Columbia High School seal, a circle was selected as the shape of the district icon as a symbol of unity for the Circle Shape logo.

And, finally, regarding the Motto logo, Taylor clarified, “The academic experience in the district emphasizes student empowerment and diversity. The motto ‘Learning and growing together towards academic excellence—many voices, two towns, one district’ was created to celebrate this quality and complement the visual identity. The shorthand version of the motto is placed at the base of the primary mark. Each subsequent school logo also includes a custom motto, representing the collective voice of each school community.”

The unified graphic identity project began in October 2022 with Skye Design Studios and took nine months to complete.

“Collaboration for each school included school administrators, teachers, parent/teacher associations, and student voices,” Taylor said. “These teams met weekly for a discover, define, and design stage in phases, and most schools met for a total of four to six meetings. Collaboration for the district logo included central office leadership staff and included input from various internal stakeholders. Skye Design Studios and a district office lead met with all the individual schools in stages from October 2022 through April 2023 to determine each school’s theme, school essence, and brand voice until there was a consensus on the brand, final motto, and design that best represented their schools.”

Continuing, he added, “Most schools engaged student voices via surveys to choose their mascot and/or motto and also had student leaders take part in the initial planning meetings.”

Taylor said there were no challenges in the collaborations: “We provided guidelines and entrusted school building administrators to build the team they needed to collaborate with to work on their school’s revised/new graphic identity,” Taylor said.